Since 1784, Gayle Mill has stood proudly in Gayle, by the side of Duerley Beck at the head of Wensleydale.

Much like today, it was a time of great change and uncertainty. The American War of Independence had ended, and trading in cotton had begun again with a vengeance. The industrial revolution was well underway, which meant that the countryside and towns were changing with the expansion of factories and roads.

It was at this time that Oswald and Thomas Routh spotted an ideal opportunity, to build a mill (based upon the latest Arkwright design) in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.

Using cutting edge technology, including water power from the local beck, and some of the most modern machinery of the day, Gayle Mill started its life as a cotton mill.

Since those early days, Gayle Mill reflected the changing industries in the Dales and the fortunes of UK manufacturing, moving from cotton to spinning flax, and then wool for the local knitting cottage industry. 

As time passed, the development of larger mills in cities such as Bradford and Leeds, made it harder for Gayle Mill to compete.

Gayle Mill reinvented itself in 1879, when it yet again adopted the latest technology, and became a mechanised sawmill powered by yet another invention, a Thomson designed double-vortex turbine. Built by Williamsons (now Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon Ltd) of Kendal. The 10hp (7.46kW) created by the turbine drove a range of woodworking machinery (rack sawbench, circular saw, planer/thicknesser, and lathes) which is still in use today.

Gayle Mill kept pace with innovation, when in the early years of the 20th century an electricity generator was installed to provide lighting. In 1920 the Hawes Electric Company leased part of the Mill and installed a turbine for their generator. 

The Mill continued as a working sawmill for many years until 1988, when the last owner retired and the Mill gradually fell into disrepair.

Fast forward to 2004, and Gayle Mill was under new ownership and with many years of planning, the Mill reinvented itself again. The North of England Civic Trust began to restore the Mill with much enthusiastic local support.

The Gayle Mill story gripped the nation in the BBC TV "Restoration" series, coming third in the national final in 2004.

In the Spring of 2008, after four long years of hard work, Gayle Mill was restored to its former glory, and opened its doors to the public, welcoming visitors from across the world.

If the brief history of this fascinating Mill has whetted your appetite, then you can relive the full story with a unique guided tour, where over 200 years of innovation, reinvention and resourcefulness are vividly brought to life.

Or, why not read more about us in "The Gayle Mill Story", on sale at the Mill or via post? This superb short book gives a detailed and authentic history of Gayle Mill, and makes a great read for anyone interested in the Yorkshire Dales and engineering history. Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to order a copy.

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